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AI-created artwork wins first place at Colorado State Fair, artist receives criticism

AI-created artwork wins first place at Colorado State Fair, artist receives criticism.jpg
Posted at 6:14 PM, Aug 31, 2022

PUEBLO — At the Colorado State Fair, a piece of digital artwork that won first place in a competition, has some people in the art community concerned. Today, the artist from Pueblo West is defending his work.

Jason M. Allen created the piece called ‘Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,’ or Space Opera Theater, using artificial intelligence. It was with an online art program called Mid Journey.

However, some people are taking to social media sharing their concerns about the first-place prize. They claim, it’s not fair because AI art breaks the rules and goes against digital art methods.

“No one, as far as I know has won a contest using artificial intelligence generated artwork. And maybe that's why there's so much attention on it,” said Allen. “But when you can watch your imagination appear on the screen, there's something really special about that, and I have a vivid imagination.”

Allen said he authored the piece, using trial and error, and creative words and prompts.

“Its creative writing. It's a form of artistry. I used really colorful artistic words like elegant, opulent, lavish. I wanted something really beautiful, just an amazing scene that you would want to watch at an opera,” said Allen.

However on social media, his artwork has gone viral and received thousands of comments of criticism, calling the win unfair.

“I know I didn't break any rules. It's clearly defined well in the rules,” said Allen.

Scott Stoller, the general manager of the state fair weighed in, and said that the entry abides by the judging guidelines. But it is a conversation to have moving forward, as art has evolved throughout the years.

“We haven’t seen anything in our show requirements that prohibits this activity. But it opens up debate as to, do we need to evaluate this for next year as we create the parameters? Does this need to be excluded? And I think this is a conversation that we'll have with the art community after this year's fair,” said Stoller.

Like technology, art is always evolving and so are the rules for competitions.

Allen says when submitting the piece, the judges asked him how he created his work. He told the judges he used his computer and Mid Journey, although he didn't explain the entire process. He said the judges then told him his work would be submitted in the digital art competition.

He understands that it’s still up for debate where AI art belongs in the digital art world.

“It took a long time. I put over 80+ hours into this project. I’ve generated 900+ images of this particular prompt that I’ve been fine-tuning,” said Allen. “AI is a tool, like a paintbrush is a tool, and there still requires a creative force behind the tool.”

Allen submitted three pieces of artwork that were a part of the Space Opera Theater. He has sold two of the pieces, including the first-place winner for $750.

Stoller also mentioned there are people who believe rules were broken, and if someone is able to find that in the show requirements, they will review it.

Stoller and Allen said it brings up the conversation of having an AI category of digital artwork in future art shows.

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